In Gratitude: Stanley K. Plotnick
Montreal, Canada
Outgoing member of KH Executive
 
​"Let the new generation lead!"

After some ten years on the KH Executive, 2012 Yakir Keren Hayesod Award recipient Stanley Plotnick has retired from this prestigious body. On this occasion, he shared with us during a recent stay in Tel Aviv some of his insights about KH in particular as well as his local Jewish community.

"It has been a privilege for me to serve on KH Executive, along with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met", says Stanley. “I met extraordinary people - not only in terms of their commitment, but also in terms of their success in just about everything they do. Look at [immediate past KH-UIA World Board of Trustees Chair] Yohanna Arbib-Perugia's enthusiasm and the position she attained at such a young age! Look at Julia Koschitzky, Mark Leibler, Jack Smorgon, Menno Paktor - they achieved outstanding professional success and could have enjoyed life without too many hassles. But in fact, they dedicated the major part of their lives to their people's needs. I feel very proud to have been part of this group, who embody KH's unique sense of 'togetherness' ".
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The Canadian Jewish News announces the bestowing of the 2012 Yakir KH Award on Stanley Plotnick.
 
A frequent traveler to Israel for more than 30 years, Stanley totally identifies with the country and its people: "My support for Israel doesn't come so much from the feeling that Israel needs me,  but rather, from a much deeper wish to be a part of Israel, and for Israel to be a part of me. Whether in Jerusalem or in Montreal, we are one people. So what I do for Israel does more for me than for Israel. It enhances my Jewishness, my pride in being part of this people. Israel is an extension of myself; that's why when I'm here, I feel completely at home. Israel is my heart and soul, and I think that people who don't feel like that lose out on a lot".
"My desire to help Israel became very pronounced about twenty years ago", Stanley recalls. "I'm still there, of course, but today Israel also has a lot to do for the Diaspora. It must exemplify the moral standards of the Jewish people and make us proud of what we are. It must help us better understand our history and pass it on, share it, with the next generation".
"That is precisely the reason why I decided to retire from the KH Executive", he explains. "We have to make more room for a new generation of leaders. I tried to change KH's governance, to set term limits in order to constantly bring in new people, new leaders. At the same time, one could think about creating a Board of Advisors, with retired leaders who would meet once a year and share their accumulated experience. In leaving the KH Executive, I wanted to make a symbolic gesture. I'm happy that another young leader, David Koschitzky, has succeeded Yohanna Arbib-Perugia as Chair of our World Board of Trustees. Keep one or two ‘old-timers’ and let the new generation lead! I'm still around, of course, any time that I can be of help, but there must be new approaches by young leaders who live different lives and have different perceptions than we did. 

"Actually, I resigned from all my posts", Stanley emphasizes. "For example, I wanted to choose my successor at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). So David Cape replaced me as Vice-Chair, and now chairs the Centre. This is crucial for me. Everything has changed - life, business, family. Of course, experience has a great deal of value, but even if we understand the changes around us, we can't and don't have the same life experiences as those who are now in their 30s and 40s. I was seven when Israel was born, and I remember my parents laughing and crying at the same time. For my grandchildren, it is a fact of life". 

Stanley greatly admires the Kesher project for Young Leadership leaders, which is supported by Julia Koschitzky ("she did a great thing here, she's truly a visionary") and the Forum initiative as well.
Stanley's involvement in Israel began with projects in Yeruham, in the eastern Negev, in the early '90s, but his name is first and foremost linked to the city of Beersheva and the Bnei Shimon Region in general. "I fully believe in the need to promote the Galilee and Negev, as well, of course, as Jerusalem. This will have an impact also on the coexistence between Jews and Arabs. Regarding the Negev, we can't have half of the country almost empty!" 
When he speaks about Beersheva, his dedication and love for his Israeli partners is palpable: "It all began a bit by chance, and then we developed a strong relationship with [former Mayor] Yaakov Turner and then with [his successor, Mayor] Ruvik Danilovich. They really made their way into our hearts. It is a wonderful partnership between individuals who  share values and  ideals [Stanley established a beautiful park in the city – Y.A.]. In Beersheva, you can see and touch, you really feel how you made a difference. When I drive around Beersheva, I feel completely at home".
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Close friends, Beersheba's Mayor Ruvik Danilovich and Stanley Plotnick, say it all in one picture!

 
An important leader also of the Montreal Jewish community, Stanley comments: "Montreal has a great, long established Jewish community of nearly 90,000. But it faces challenges as well. 20% of Montreal's Jews live below the line of poverty line. And for a number of years younger Jews were leaving the city. Fortunately the tide has changed. Young families are not only staying in Montreal, but also assuming the leadership of the community. And, with their leadership and personal finances, they have created an incredible initiative, “Gen J” , to ensure that the future generations have strong ties to both their Jewishness and Israel. I am deeply proud of them”.

Stanley has resigned from KH Executive but in no way intends to end  his involvement in Jewish and Zionist affairs. "I don't worry about tomorrow", he smiles. "It will be my pleasure to do anything David Koschitzky and KH leadership ask me to do on a personal and voluntary basis. The big difference is that it won’t be a 24/7 activity any more. But my passion and love for Israel will remain unchanged. I'll be happy and proud to contribute in any way I can".

The worldwide Keren Hayesod family wishes to thank Stanley for decades of generosity, vision and dedication. May you enjoy many more years of good health and happiness with Barbi and all your loved ones, along with continued activity on behalf of Keren Hayesod, Israel and the Jewish people!